Wednesday, May 26, 2021

One year since surgery

Can you believe it has already been a year since my big melanoma surgery? I scarcely know where the time has gone, but it was exactly one year ago today that I was being operated on at North Shore Hospital. 

My most recent CT scan. 

All the news I have to share since then is good. I've had several CT scans since surgery, and they've all been clear. 

Receiving my three-weekly Keytruda infusion.

I've completed 16 rounds of adjuvant immunotherapy with Keytruda, and last week my oncologist discharged me. I've now be referred back to the care of my surgical team, who will book me in for six-monthly CT scans to keep an eye on things for the next few years. There's no blood test that tells you if you have melanoma, hence all the scans. 

My side effects to the immunotherapy have been few and far between. I'm still suffering from a slightly underactive thyroid, but I'm hoping that will come right again, as it has already done so before during my treatment with the help of prayer and iodine. 

My scar one year after surgery.

My scars have healed well, although they've thickened up quite a bit so my surgeon is planning to do steroid injections in them to help make them less noticeable. 

Heading home after the MelNet conference.

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation at a MelNet conference for nurses at Auckland Hospital, which was well-received. I basically just talked through my melanoma journey, but with a specific focus on my interactions with nurses to make it relevant for them. It was an interesting experience for me because I got to sit through most of the conference, and learned a lot about the world of melanoma. 

Rangiputa Beach. 

In April, a lovely friend gifted my family and I with a week-long vacation at her holiday home in Coopers Beach, which was absolutely wonderful. She lost her own husband to cancer a number of years ago and likes to bless people who are going through cancer journeys with holidays there. 

It truly was a blessing.  

We had the nicest time, exploring many beautiful places that reminded us all over again why we love living in New Zealand so much. I felt the Lord tell me that the holiday was a blessing for me, because he loves me. I knew I was coming to the end of my treatment while I was up there, so it was a lovely way to see out this strange year. 

Maitai Bay

In so many ways, I feel that this cancer journey has been more of a blessing to me than a curse. I've been so thoroughly bathed in God's love and in the love of friends and whanau that I've come out of it with a deeper appreciation for my life and the lives of the people around me. I'm living in hope that my life has a lot more of it left.

Thank you for journeying with me this past year. God bless you!

Love Emma

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